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An Ex-Defence Personnel's Guide to Ace Indian Air Force's Physical Fitness Test

Established on October 8th, 1932, Indian Air Force is recognized for its courage, boldness, and commitment to saving lives, no matter how grueling and obstinate are adversities that block its path. The guardian of aerospace has consistently redefined its capabilities to acclimate to technological advancements to execute people-centric operations through strategic approaches. The recruitment process of this skill-intensive service is renowned for its grinding process, designed to distinguish candidates of superlative mettle and unwavering tenacity.  

The Recruitment Process 

The recruitment process commences with the exhaustive inspection of aspirants' academic qualifications, assessing their cognitive and intellectual abilities. It is followed by stringent physical assessments to examine candidates' physical prowess, perseverance, and resilience. In addition, there is a series of psychological evaluations to identify the resoluteness, adaptability, and presence of mind of the candidates.  

The pinnacle of the Indian air force recruitment process lies in the physical fitness examination that serves as a critical parameter to examine the credentials of candidates to withstand the arduous demands of the field. Every year, the personnel in the selection committee review the criteria and design the exam to test candidates' physical prowess, capability to withstand combat situations, and flexibility to adapt to diverse operations.  

Every year, thousands of candidates appear for the exam to receive the coveted honor of serving the nation as a cadre of exceptional abilities and unyielding devotion to the nation. With systematic planning and a focused approach, candidates start preparing for the exam by age 15-16. Their airforce physical fitness training regimen consists of diverse physical activities that enhance their physical capabilities and improve their chances of qualifying for the exam with flying colors.  

The Physical Fitness Exam  

The physical fitness exam of Indian defence forces is famous for its rigorous standards, intense competition, and comprehensive evaluation. Therefore, becoming part of the world's fourth-largest air force requires discipline, grit, resilience, and hard work to qualify for the exam. 

By collaborating with the ex-defence personnel, we have curated a list of recommendations for candidates to ace the Indian air force's physical fitness test. 

1. Cardiovascular Endurance 

The exam tests candidates' ability to perform competently in running and other endurance-based exercises to examine if they can execute physically challenging assignments, such as marching, patrolling, and other tactical operations, especially in demanding circumstances. 

  • Warm-Up (5-10 Minutes)  

Start the warm-up routine by walking at a faster pace, followed by side-stepping, stair climbing, leg swings, arm circles, and butt kicks.  

  • Running (50- 90 minutes)  

Incorporating diverse runs, such as long-distance, interval, and fartlek runs, engages various muscle groups and enhances cardiovascular endurance. It also provides cross-training benefits that improve fitness levels. Aim for at least 3 runs per week; beginners can start with 3-4 km and gradually increase it to 10-15 km.  

  • Hill Training (Per Convenience)   

Many candidates prefer hill training to build leg and core strength, as running or marching uphill involves multiple muscles, enabling aspirants to perform better in strenuous activities. It also improves explosive power and running speed, enhancing the probability of candidates performing better in a 1600m run. So, if you have the privilege of training in hilly or inclined areas, incorporate it into your routine to enhance your strength, flexibility, agility, and endurance.  

2. Core Strength Exercise  

Developing a strong core enhances a candidate's ability to perform better in tasks that require running, jumping, crawling, etc. Incorporating core strength exercises in air force training workouts improves stability and balance for smoother transitions between diverse physical tasks, enhances functional strength, and reduces the risk of injury. 

  • Plank (3 sets) 

In the beginning, hold the plank position for 30 seconds to 1 minute. As you improve your core strength, you can gradually increase the duration of the plank.   

  •  Hindu squat (2 Sets) 

One of the essentials of the airforce training exercises, start the Hindu squats with 15 reps. Once you assess your fitness levels, gradually increase the number of reps to 50-70 or to a number that is more convenient to your physical requirements.  

  • Bicycle crunches 

Engage your core strength with 3 sets of 15-30 reps (10-15 reps per side). This exercise targets 'six-pack' muscles and side abdominal muscles. In addition to improving the stability of the spine, bicycle crunches enhance the flexibility of the core and improve neuromuscular control.    

  • Push-ups & Pull-ups 

These are fundamental body exercises that enhance overall strength, muscular development, and functional fitness. While push-ups target the chest, shoulders, and triceps, pull-ups strengthen the back, biceps, and forearms. A few benefits of these exercises include enhanced body strength, grip strength, core engagement, and posture. Start with 4 sets of 10 push and pull-ups and gradually increase to 4 sets of 20 reps as you improve your physical strength.  

3. Cool-Down 

After indulging in an intense workout session, it is significant to cool down to help the body recover, reduce muscle soreness, gradual recovery of pre-exercise heart rate, and facilitate the body's return to venous tone. To cool down, you can perform the following exercises: 

  • Slow walking or jogging for 10 minutes 
  • Static stretching of chest, shoulders, back, hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, and hip flexors, holding each stretch for 15-20 seconds 
  • Hold the cobra pose for 15-20 seconds 
  • Finish the cool-down with deep breathing for 10-20 seconds 


While it might seem difficult at first, following the fitness routine becomes a habit once you follow it ardently. Always remember there is no shortcut to hard work. Keep making efforts, and you might find yourself serving and protecting your motherland one fine day. Good luck!  

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